Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 review in progress – the worst COD campaign ever

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 review in progress - the worst COD campaign ever

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Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – it’s barely even Modern Warfare 2.5 (Picture: Activision)

GameCentral reviews the story campaign for this year’s Call Of Duty, as the single-player mode for Modern Warfare 3 is released early.

Modern Warfare 3 isn’t officially out for several days yet and it already seems as if everything that could possibly be said about it has already been discussed several times over. We can only assume that Activision is very confident in the game, as not only did they have their usual beta – which went fine – but they’ve allowed anyone that pre-ordered the game to play it more than a week early. Which means they either don’t care or genuinely think the worst single-player mode in 25 years is a selling point.

We say 25 years because Call Of Duty recently celebrated its silver jubilee and yet, despite maintaining a consistently high quality throughout all those years, it’s somehow managed to reserve its most unambiguous failure for not only an important anniversary year but the very moment that Microsoft paid $69 billion for publisher Activision. It’s impossible to imagine the timing being worse.

This is only a review of the campaign mode. The beta showed the multiplayer to be a competent, if predictable, retro-inspired experience and we haven’t played anything at all yet, of the new open world version of Zombies. For many, the campaign isn’t even important, with some ignoring it as a matter of course, but what makes Modern Warfare 3’s failure more notable is that it seems to be nothing more than repurposed DLC.

For months now there have been rumours that the original plan was to have no new Call Of Duty this year – because the developers had fallen behind in their schedules – and to instead sell premium DLC for last year’s Modern Warfare 2. This would reportedly have included a new story campaign and multiplayer maps that were all remasters from the original Modern Warfare 2 from 2009 – with nothing that was genuinely new.

Judging by the beta that is exactly what Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer is, which of course makes no sense, since this is supposed to be a reboot of Modern Warfare 3, not 2. There’s far clearer evidence than that though, including the fact that the trophy list shows the game as still being a part of Modern Warfare 2 and that some people have been unable to play the game without being forced to insert the Modern Warfare 2 disc.

You could argue that none of that matters as long as the game is good, but the problem is it’s not. Not only is the campaign less than four hours long – further hinting at its DLC origins – but it’s really bad as well.

The plot opens with rebooted protagonist Vladimir Makarov being broken out of prison, as the campaign follows the same pattern as the last two games, by being neither remake or reboot, but just picking and choosing plot points and set pieces at random from the 2000-era entries. In this case that primarily means rerunning concepts from the original Modern Warfare 2 that weren’t already used in last year’s game.

Most notably, this includes the infamous No Russian level, where you were forced to take part in a civilian massacre. As with everything else, it’s not exactly the same as before in the new Modern Warfare 3, but while somewhat diluted from its original incarnation it’s still as vulgar and distasteful as ever.

There’s also one level that is reminiscent of All Ghillied Up, as if the campaign was originally meant to be a sort of greatest hits retrospective for the 25th anniversary, but like everything else it’s very half-hearted and All Ghillied Up has been riffed on so many times over the years there’s zero point doing it again here. The exact same thing goes for the obligatory, and thoroughly uninteresting, AC-130 gunship mission near the end.

At least the No Russian analogue is able to inspire some kind of emotion, even if it is just revulsion, but the sad truth is the majority of the campaign is just plain boring, in large part thanks to the new open combat missions. These are large open-ended maps where you’re able to carry out objectives in any order you like, while trying to pick up better weapons and equipment from hidden caches.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – no COD is better than bad COD (Picture: Activision)

In other words, it’s Warzone, but on a subset of the Verdansk map and with no other human players or any sense of urgency or structure. Worst of all you have to play completely on your own, with no team-mates to help out, which makes it seem even more like playing Warzone against endless spawning bots – AI-controlled enemies that have clearly been designed to work in small linear levels, not open world maps.

The whole experience is exactly the sort of thing you’d imagine a developer slapping together quickly while under a deadline and not having time to flesh it out properly. And as if the ridiculously short running time (half that of last year’s game) wasn’t bad enough the story just abruptly ends, without any real resolution or even a proper cliffhanger for the next game.

Clearly, the rebooted Modern Warfare series is going to be more than a trilogy, but while the first two entries were perfectly good games, that made worthy attempts to try and evolve the franchise forward, this Modern Warfare 3 is the sort of minimum effort cash grab that the series has up until now always avoided.

In terms of story campaign this is the worst Call Of Duty has ever been. Theoretically, there’s a chance that the multiplayer and Zombies co-op will make up for it but that’s going to require them to be something very special. And yet, somehow, we no longer have the confidence that Modern Warfare 3 can deliver on that…

Formats: PlayStation 5 (reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, and PC
Price: £69.99
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Release Date: 10th November 2023*
Age Rating: 18

*early access to campaign from 2nd November, for those that pre-ordered

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